Idukki dam’s shutters opened after 26 years as rain pounds Kerala; 22 dead
Heavy rains claimed 20 lives in Kerala. The Idukki dam’s shutters opened for the first time in 26 years.Updated: Aug 09, 2018 19:16 IST
Torrential rain claimed 22 lives over the last 24 hours in Kerala as the government sought the help of the army, navy and the air force and authorities were forced to open the shutters of Idukki reservoir, Asia’s biggest arch dam, after 26 years to release excess water.
The Kochi airport has resumed operations two hours after suspending it due to the heavy showers.
“The situation in the state is really serious. We are forced to open 22 dams in the state due to incessant rains. Such a situation never arose in the recent past. We have sought the army, navy and air force’s help. Control rooms will be opened in six worst-affected districts,” said chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan after an emergency cabinet meet.
The famous Nehru Trophy Boat Race in Alappuzha has been cancelled, the chief minister announced.
Of the five shutters of Cheruthoni dam, only one shutter was partially opened to release 50,000 litres of water per second from the swollen reservoir, said a senior official of the district administration. The shutter will be closed after four hours. At least 3,000 families living near catchment areas have been shifted to safer places.
The 45-year-old Idukki dam had not filled to such levels in the past 26 years. The Idukki reservoir has three dams — the main dam on Periyar river that holds the maximum water has no shutters as it is situated between two imposing granite hills locally known as Kuravan and Kurathi mala. The other two are Cheruthoni and Kulamavu dams. The partial opening of a shutter at Cheruthoni means all other dams downstream will have to be opened to the ease the pressure of water. There are 14 dams in the district.
Wayanad district was completely cut off by landslides and the army’s help was sought to restore road network to the hill district.
At least 22 people were killed and 10 are missing as heavy rains triggered landslides in many places in north Kerala. 11 people died in Idukki district, five in Malappuram district, three in Wayanad, two in Kannur and one in Kozhikode, a home ministry spokesperson said.
As the situation is improved, we are resuming all operations from 3.05 pm, a spokesperson of Cochin International Airport (CIAL) said.
Army units have been deployed in Wayanad and 3,000 people have been shifted to safer areas. More than 1,000 houses have been destroyed in the state.
Educational institutions were closed in six districts and people have been advised to avoid travel in hilly areas of the state. The CM also requested people not to crowd dam areas and take selfies.
Last month, Alappuzha and Kottayam districts were flooded due to the rains which claimed the lives of 40 people. A central team led by Union ministers Kiran Rijiju and K J Alpohns visited the areas and announced an initial relief of Rs 80 crore. The state had demanded Rs 1,000 crore relief to tide over the crisis.